An artisan gelato manufacturer is looking to expand its wholesale operations following the opening of a new production facility.
North Yorkshire-based Groovy Moo was launched in 2015 by operations manager Ashley Smith, pictured, and his mother Michelle Walker.
Prior to setting up the business, Mr Smith helped his mother and stepdad, Sean, run an ice cream parlour on Bridlington seafront, which they had for around 15 years.
“We had to sell that, unfortunately, in 2013 when my stepdad was diagnosed with cancer,” Mr Smith told The Yorkshire Post. “We set this up while he was ill but he never saw it finish.”
The idea for setting up Groovy Moo came about as a result of their attempts to source high quality ice-cream.
Mr Smith said: “We found that every other manufacturer was manufacturing to a price point rather than quality. They were all trying to compete with each other.”
Three years since launching, Groovy Moo has two ice cream parlours, one in Malton and one in Howden, and has opened a manufacturing facility on Showfield Lane. The new site has enabled the company to increase cold storage facilities from seven cubic metres to 70 cubic metres and install new equipment.
Mr Smith said: “We opened our ice-cream parlour in Malton. Given the big success of that we opened another one in Howden last year in April. That’s been a success as well.
“Now we’re getting interest from other parties.
“It got to a point where we were having to turn away wholesale customers because we were just not big enough to manufacture for ourselves and other people. This is why we’ve ended up putting in place a production unit.”
Groovy Moo hopes to create more of a “constant demand” supplying wholesale as retail can be at the mercy of the weather.
The operations manager said: “We’re trying to pick up more wholesale business. Retail is good but it’s difficult because on a day when it’s pouring it down both of our shops will be really quiet.
“When you’re supplying other outlets like restaurants, there’s more of a constant demand.”
The business hopes to double its turnover over the next 12 months. Groovy Moo has appointed Garbutt + Elliott to provide accountancy services and business advice to support its future growth plans.
Mr Smith says making gelato is “more like a science than a culinary skill”. It differs from ordinary ice cream as there is less air whipped into it and it’s lower in fat and sugar as well.
The operations manager was trained on making the dessert at leading institutions in Palermo and Bologna, Italy.
“I could waffle on all day about ice cream,” Mr Smith said.
People are beginning to notice the distinct difference between gelato and ice cream, he added, and that is part of the reason for it being “on trend”. Mr Smith said: “If you taste ice cream, and you love ice cream, and then you taste a well made gelato, the flavours are so different. They’re two different products albeit made from the same ingredients.”
The challenge though is that ice cream is sold by volume and it can be difficult to convince people of the difference between ordinary ice cream and gelato.
Groovy Moo is also catering for other trends as well. It offers dairy-free ice cream for vegans and people with intolerances to dairy.
Mr Smith believes that his stepdad Sean would be proud of what the business has achieved in such a short space of time.